Brawl on Jenkinson's Beach and Boardwalk Leads to Bloods Gang Members Arrested
Incident part of dramatic uptick in number of gang members getting arrested on boardwalk, police say
Three northern New Jersey Bloods gang members were arrested early Thursday morning by police responding to a brawl of about 35 people that moved from Jenkinson's beach to boardwalk to parking lot to street, police said.
Shareef Alston, 22, of Passaic, Alexander Melendez, 25, of Newark, and Tarrell Rhodes, 25, of Patterson, were charged with disorderly conduct following a "large street brawl" involving about 35 people that took four police departments to bring under control, said Police Lt. Robert Dikun.
They were processed and released, Dikun said.
Some of those in the brawl had minor injuries, but none requiring hospitalization, he said, adding there were no weapons recovered or observed.
Dikun said the fight started on Jenkinson's beach, "which the gang members were using for a social gathering and then spilled onto the boardwalk, the parking lot and then Ocean Avenue."
"This is an example of how people with organized gang backgrounds are attracted to this area," Dikun said. "There has been a substantial increase in the number of gang members arrested here this year, compared to the last 17 years."
The police department began keeping detailed statistics on a weekly basis 17 years ago, so they can compare a week's worth of statistics during a specific week to the same week in prior years, Dikun said.
Dikun and Police Chief Kevin O'Hara have been telling the mayor, Borough Council and the public during the past couple of months that this has been the worst summer for criminal activity in the past 17 years.
"It's fair to say that the number of interactions with gang members is alarming and have increased to the point where we are often interacting with gang members on a regular basis," Dikun said.
Police were called at 3:57 a.m. Thursday by a Jenkinson's security officer "with a report of a possible fight on Ocean Avenue," and arrived to find a large brawl that prompted calls for assistance from police departments in Bay Head, Mantoloking and Point Borough, Dikun said.
Many of those in the brawl scattered and fled in cars as police arrived and others were identified, but not charged, based on the police investigation of the evidence, Dikun said.
"Most, if not all, were members or affiliates of the Bloods from Newark and Paterson," Dikun said. "There are two factions of the Bloods and it's very possible that the dispute may have been over female companionship, and organized groups from different geographic areas were not able to work out problems without physical altercation It may have been that the Passaic-Paterson group had a problem with the Newark group."
All three charged have lengthy criminal records, Dikun said. Rhodes' prior charges include aggravated assault and the manufacture and distribution of illegal narcotics, he said.
Melendez's prior charges include possession of a handgun, robbery, aggravated assault and resisting arrest.
Alston's priors include the manufacture and distribution of drugs, drug possession in a school zone, employing juveniles in the distribution of drugs and possession of assault firearms and handguns.
When asked if inner city families from northern New Jersey are often simply enjoying the beach and boardwalk without any incidents, Dikun said, "Absolutely. The residents and businesses here value diversity and we have inner city families coming and going all the time on a regular basis with no problems.
"But we also see some young men and women causing problems, but the same can be said of some visitors from suburban and rural areas," he said.
This past weekend, police issued 65 municipal ordinance violations and made 11 arrests and, last week overall, had a total of 115 incidents, including municipal ordinance violations and arrests, Dikun said.
And the weekend was cut short due to heavy rain on Sunday, he noted.
"Friday and Saturday alone came close to breaking a record, compared to prior years," Dikun said.